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Lightning kills 350 endangered Saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan

The Kazakhstan announced this Friday, May 14 that about 350 endangered saiga antelopes and emblematic of this Central Asian country, were found dead in the steppe, probably killed by lightning.

This drama took place during the calving season of antelopes saïgas, an animal classified as critically endangered by the NGO World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Lightning is probably at the origin of the tragedy, according to the Kazakh Ministry of Ecology “Because there are traces of lightning strikes on their carcasses”.

Recognizable by their twisted horns and their long rounded muzzle, like a small trunk, the saigas have come close to extinction several times. Their origin dates back to the last ice age.

50,000 antelopes counted

During the Soviet era, these bovids benefited from reinforced protection with a total ban on their hunting, then very strict hunting quotas from the 1950s. Their population then reached more than two million individuals.

Kazakhstan’s independence in 1991 was followed by an explosion in poaching of Saiga antelopes, once again threatening them with extinction.

Today, around 50,000 antelopes are recorded, of which nearly 90% live in Kazakhstan. However, the traditional medicine of China, a neighbor of this country, uses the horns of male saigas, feeding a juicy and devastating traffic.

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